Every day we see multiple “breaking news” alerts in our email, on Twitter, Facebook, TV and everywhere in between. At this point, many of us have become immune to the term. It’s hard to know what is truly breaking news when everything from a school shooting to a soccer player being banned for biting is lumped together. And it’s even harder to tell what is applicable to our individual lives.
Last week, BreakingNews.com, a startup within NBC News Digital that has been aggregating breaking news for years and is often the first to break it on Twitter, became the first app to send users a push notification on their mobile devices (iOS app only for now) when news breaks near them.
These geo-locating “proximity alerts” from the app will send users a push notification on their mobile device and will only trigger when two things happen. First, there has to be a significant story breaking at a location, and second, you have to be inside the story’s “impact zone.” For example, when the app launched last week, the app sent three proximity alerts to towns in Nebraska as they were being hit by tornadoes. Minutes later, a town was nearly destroyed.
BreakingNews.com aims to make the news extremely targeted to an area by combining an algorithm and editorial judgment in real time. It will also work internationally and will follow you if you travel.
As many of us are already relying on local alerts to tell us when a road is closed, someone is missing, if there is a crime in our area or if a local school is closed, it only makes sense that our news should be local – and sent directly to us. For public relations professionals, this may mean being ready with spokespeople and statements in the case of local breaking news, especially in times of crisis.
To read more about how this will roll out, Cory Bergman, the GM of BreakingNews.com, wrote a thoughtful piece for Medium to explain.